If you weren’t asleep when the thunderstorms rolled through last night, chances are they woke you up!

The first weekend of summer wrapped up in dramatic fashion as an unusually strong summertime cold front swept across Vancouver Island and Washington state late Sunday. The night sky was bright with lightning, the usual nighttime silence was broken by loud, rumbling thunder, and the rain poured down.

The radar image for 9:30 p.m. – when the storms reached the southern tip of Vancouver Island – shows the heavy rain in areas of yellow and red. By midnight it was all over, at least for Vancouver Island, as the stormy weather tracked east.

radar 930pm

radar 930pm wide

radar 11pm

Hundreds of lightning strikes were detected from Vancouver Island to the Lower Mainland to Washington State.

Here’s what the University of Washington’s regional lightning detection network picked up in the 24 hour periods between Sunday at 1:00 a.m. and Monday at 1:00 a.m.

lightning 1am

Source: University of Washington

The light show didn’t disappoint!

As for rain, it came down fast and furious during the storm hours. This image from School Based Weather Station Network shows the total rainfall in the Greater Victoria area Sunday, up until midnight.

rain total

All this happened because the cold front was pretty strong, stronger than usual for this time of year, and instability was elevated. So when the front’s upward motion released the energy, conditions were perfect for thunderstorm development. Usually a cold front at this time of year sends cooler marine air onshore, but with higher amounts of Convective Available Potential Energy (aka CAPE), we got an evening of dramatic weather.

The chatter on social media focused a lot on how rare it is to have thunderstorms on Vancouver Island. Statistics from Environment and Climate Change Canada back that up. A study conducted between 1999 and 2013 shows that, on average, we only get a few days of thunderstorms every year on the island:


Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada

There’s still a risk of thunderstorms on the island today. East Vancouver Island has the best chance of thunder and lightning, even though convective weather can’t be ruled out elsewhere on the island.


The rest of the week is fairly standard for this time of year: Partly cloudy with sunny breaks, occasional showers and temperatures around seasonal average. Once we get through today, I think we’re done with the weather drama for at least little while!